I want to praise God for His work in their lives as a couple, specifically in three ways:
First, their faithful service. This is the sixth year that they have served in the middle school group. Many of us have trouble committing to even small things for six months, much less six years. Especially something as challenging and as demanding as Middle School ministry. Yet, they continue to serve. And not just serve in a well-they’re-a-warm-body kind of service, but they serve in a way that shows they see each child as one of God’s children. They could have checked out when they had a child. They could have checked out when they had a second child. They could have checked out when they had a third child. And they didn’t. They didn’t because they have their priorities right. They see that eternity is much more valuable then they’re comfort. And even though the easy road would be to find a less demanding ministry, they don’t. I look forward one day to standing before God as He shows Steve and Kelly the overwhelming treasure they will have in heaven because they served God with their lives.
Secondly, their discipleship. Jesus’ last words in the book of Matthew, before He went up to heaven, were this: “Go and make disciples”. Jesus’ last words weren’t: “Go and get a good job” or “Go, and find a ministry you like,” but “Go and make disciples”. Steve and Kelly live as if these words were spoken by Jesus—because they were. They are fiercely committed to discipleship. Discipleship can sound like a nice sounding church word, unless you’ve done it before. Then you realize that discipleship means loving those that are hard to love, serving when you don’t feel like it, bearing with folks who sin and need repentance, daily self-denial, and much, much prayer. Steve and Kelly know this, cause they do it. All the time. And they are phenomenal at this. And this is with the additional challenge that they’re pool of students changes 50% every year. The 8th graders move up to high school, the 5th graders move in, and yet Steve and Kelly pour themselves 100% into the students. Another quick thing, some people think that to reach young people you have to know their language, their “cool” culture, and be their buddy. Steve and Kelly don’t believe this lie. They model Christianity and pull students up to their level. This is real discipleship.
Thirdly, their others-focus. This ties into the last one, but bears its own 122 words worth of God-ward praise. Let me explain this about them by explaining what Steve and Kelly are not. Have you ever met someone who only wants to talk about themselves? They brag about accomplishments, regal you with boring personal stories, and jump all over questions you ask them about themselves. This is NOT Steve and Kelly. They are others-focused. They are so secure in God’s love for them, that it frees them to be totally about ministering to others. They are deeply interested in the person standing directly across from them and truly love others. When you talk with them, you feel cared for and ministered to and loved.
I could go on. Trust me. I could tell you how they do family-centered ministry at its finest. I could tell you about one of my favorite parts of their ministry—their ministry to the young adults of this church. I could tell you about the hundreds of little fun times I’ve had with them. I could tell you about how the church should have hired them instead of me. I could tell you about the special connection I will always share with them because of the car accident the three of us were in. But I won’t. You’ve already got more then enough to praise God for.
But I am grateful for them. Deeply grateful. And I look forward to, Lord-willing, continuing to serve with them and be friends with them for years to come.